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I booked a first-class seat on a train from Paris to Barcelona for $177, and I didn't even care that it was 5 hours longer than the flight

I booked a first-class seat on a train from Paris to Barcelona for $177, and I didn't even care that it was 5 hours longer than the flight
  • I paid $177 for a first-class seat on a train from Paris to Barcelona.

  • Loading my luggage, boarding the train, and arriving was an easy and mostly seamless experience.

  • The train emitted less carbon emissions than a plane, and the longer journey was worth it.

As a frequent traveler, I'm often plagued by flight shame.

France's government-run railway system, SNCF, tends to be a greener option since trains produce lower carbon emissions than planes. But tickets can be expensive and the journey can take longer than a flight.

I was determined to find a sustainable alternative for my trip from Paris to Barcelona, so I booked a first-class seat on a TGV InOui train (run by SNCF), which was nearly five hours longer than a flight.

I originally found standard tickets that started at $75, but by the time I booked my trip, that price had doubled.

Since upgrading to a first-class seat cost only an extra $21, the switch felt like an easy decision. I ended up paying $177 for my seat.

Here's how my ride went.

The train station in Paris was central and well-equipped.

A backpack being put in a train locker.
Storing my luggage before the train ride was easy and cost less than $6.Laura Nineham

Since I had to check out of my accommodations before my train departure, I dropped my backpack off at a luggage facility in Paris' Gare de Lyon station. It cost me less than $6 to store it for up to 24 hours.

After putting my bags through a scanner, I followed a staff member to a room, where they helped me find a perfectly sized locker and get enough change to pay for it. They also told me to keep track of my receipt so I could retrieve my bag safely.

Liberated from my heavy baggage, I took the metro to the Louvre Museum and spent an awe-filled morning there before leaving France.

I was told where to wait long in advance.

Departure boards in a Paris train station.
I enjoyed being able to see departure boards all over the train station.Laura Nineham

The Parisian train station was full of multiple halls, walkways, and signs, so I got lost a couple of times. But I finally found my way back to the luggage facility to pick up my backpack.

From there, I spotted a departure board that told me which hall to wait in for my train.

As an anxious traveler, I always give myself plenty of time. But I'm often still aimlessly searching for this information, so it was reassuring to know where I needed to be well in advance.

There was always a way to keep an eye on the information boards.

A departure board on the wall of Starbucks in a Paris train station.
I spent time in a Starbucks before my departure and felt at ease because I could see a departure board. Laura Nineham

With time to spare, I relaxed in a Starbucks, which offered clear views of an information board.

About 30 minutes before the scheduled departure, boarding began, and I found my assigned platform.

There was a surge of passengers, but the staff managed it well.

Passengers waiting for a train.
Although there were a lot of passengers, getting through the gates was effortless. Laura Nineham

My fellow passengers thronged the ticket barriers and caused a bottleneck, but luckily, more gates were swiftly opened.

Getting through was effortless — I scanned a QR code on my e-ticket and reached the platform with 20 minutes to spare.

The carriages were clearly labeled, and choosing a seat was a painless process.

Bag rack in a train.
I sat by the racks to make sure I could see my backpack at all times. Laura Nineham

Each carriage had several luggage compartments, which made it easy to keep track of my belongings.

I chose a seat by the racks so I could always be aware of where my backpack was. There wasn't assistance for storing luggage, but the passengers helped each other.

Once I found my seat, I waited for the train to depart — it ended up being a little late.

WiFi was included in my car, and it actually worked.

A laptop open on a train.
The WiFi was impressive and worked well during the train ride. Laura Nineham

Although the connection was sporadic, the WiFi worked well for me and offered a quick download speed. I streamed podcasts and music, and the connection rarely dropped.

My seat's table was big enough to use my laptop, and plenty of passengers seemed to be working during the trip.

The bar carriage offered refreshments, but I couldn't eat most of them.

A sandwich and bag of chips.
I couldn't eat most of the food that was offered, but it would've been nice to have a hearty meal. Laura Nineham

Plenty of refreshments were offered in the food car, such as sandwiches, burgers, beers, wines, and sodas.

I'm gluten intolerant, so I unfortunately couldn't eat any of the hot food options. Instead, I got a bag of chips and a bottle of Coca-Cola for $7 to complement my prepackaged sandwich.

Although expected, it was disappointing not to have any options for something more substantial. The ride was almost seven hours long, so a hearty meal would've helped.

The journey was smooth and passed without incident.

Parisian train.
The journey was relaxing and offered great views, but they would've been better in the daytime. Laura Nineham

It was fun to sit back and watch the landscape change as we darted south. But since sunset was around 5:30 p.m., the second half of my journey was in the dark.

The most stunning views were when we reached Montpellier, France, but I could only get a glimpse of the coastline.

If I were to take the train again, I'd book an earlier time to enjoy the scenery.

Despite a slightly late departure, I arrived at the Barcelona Sants train station on time.

Front of a TGV inOui train.
I arrived in Barcelona on time. Laura Nineham

We arrived in Barcelona on time, which was a big relief.

Although the train's announcements were in Spanish and French, it seemed easy for everyone to understand what to do when we arrived.

After an initial swarm toward the luggage, it was a smooth disembarkation.

I found the Barcelona train station a bit overwhelming.

Passengers in a Barcelona train station.
The train station in Barcelona was hectic at first, but I eventually made it through. Laura Nineham

Escalators brought us from the track to the main station and deposited us amid a large crowd. After a relaxing trip, it was a pretty hectic environment to get dumped into.

It took me a bit to find the metro, but after weaving through the large crowds of passengers, I made it.

My train trip was certainly more environmentally friendly.

Screenshot of carbon emissions from a train ride.
According to SNCF, the train ride emitted about 7 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger. Laura Nineham

MyClimate.org calculates that a flight between Paris and Barcelona would produce 430 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger. According to SNCF, the train ride emitted just 7 pounds per passenger.

I was pleased by how drastic the difference was because it made me feel as if I really picked the greener option.

Overall, I was very satisfied with my train ride.

First-class seat on a train from Paris to Barcelona.
I'd take this first-class train again. Laura Nineham

I'd do a few things differently next time — such as booking further in advance to secure a cheaper ticket — but I'd definitely take this train again.

Even though my trip was a bit expensive, the cost of checking in a bag and buying refreshments in an airport can add up quickly.

The lengthy journey also feels less burdensome when I consider the travel time to the airport and having to arrive early to check bags and find the terminal.

Read the original article on Insider